A critical shortage in the Washington region's blood supply has been made worse because of the severe impact of last week's storms, prompting the American Red Cross to make an urgent call for donors.
The Red Cross says their available blood supply is at emergency levels, after a dramatic decrease in donations, coupled with a massive power outages spanning across the Mid-Atlantic region.
A bright red "X" marks the spot on Sheri Brown's arm, where she gave someone else the gift of life.
"Someone gave to me and I need to pay it forward," she said.
It was almost 26 years ago when Brown needed emergency surgery. She's alive today because a stranger donated to the Red Cross.
"So if I had not had blood I wouldn't have been around to raise my daughters or see my three grandkids who are teenagers now," she said.
But this summer has brought new challenges to the Red Cross - both nationally and locally.
In June, the organization saw a 10 percent decrease in donations, which is roughly 50 thousand pints of blood.
Adding to that, our region's local chapter lost critical donations it already had when the power went out after last week's storms.
"It really puts our community in a very difficult situation, patients don't get vacations they are in a hospital and they need blood and every donation helps save a life," said Dr. Dayand Borge, Medical Director with the Red Cross.
That's why Monica Stein decided to donate for the first time in five years. "If you haven't donated blood and you are able to I think you absolutely should," she said.
Stein recently had a family members pass away and, in lieu of flowers, the family asked everyone to make a blood donation to the Red Cross.
"It was our duty as healthy citizens to give blood to help those that needed it," she said.
"You never know who's going to be the next person who needs blood. It might be your next door neighbor, it might be your child, it might be you," Brown said.
The whole process takes just a few minutes, but it's precious time a blood donor recipient says it well worth it.
"I know that I've had some really good years that i might not have had had I not received blood 26 years ago and I hope that my donation let's somebody else have the same kind of good life that i am having now," Brown said.
For information on how you can get involved, visit http://www.redcross.org/.